1. Why did the Trojans struggle so much on the road? How much do you think the trip to Minneapolis will impact the team?
CC: For a little background, the Trojans didn't so much struggle on the road as they struggled to close on the road (which I guess might be te same thing, but just bear with me). Very winnable late game situations were blown against Oklahoma, Oregon State, Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, and Stanford. USC also gave up double digit leads in losses to Seton Hall and Missouri on Neutral courts. SC was very competitive in pretty much every game, except for the game at Pauley Pavilion, but for some reason they just could not maintain their composure in late game situations away from home. The only explanation I can come up with is that Tim Floyd simply lacked players who were willing to step up and carry the team through difficult situations. Daniel Hackett began to shoulder that load as the season went on, but it is only recently that Demar Derozan and Taj Gibson have shown a willingness to bite back in those pressure situation. Hopefully this means that the players have overcome those road woes, but we'll only really know how the trip affects them once they hit the courts.
2. The outside opinion seems to be that this year's team is very different from last year's Mayo-led version. Aside from not having Mayo, how is this team playing differently? Who has filled the void? Has the style of play changed?
CC: The team is really only different in so far as what left when Mayo declared for the draft early. Last year OJ was the go to scorer and primary outside shooter while also sharing ballhandling duties with Hackett. The outside shooting has diminished somewhat as Dwight Lewis can be somewhat mercurial to the say the least, but Derozan has a silky smooth jumper that seems to extend out to just inside the three point line. There were a lot of struggles early on with turnovers due to the lack of a secondary ball handler and the transfer of backup PG Angelo Johnson, but Hackett has improved as the season has gone on and the TOs have been reduced dramatically since the beginning of the season. Finally, while it is sometimes painful to have no true go to scorer, the Trojans are a very balanced team offensively and feature four players who score in double digits which make them a difficult team to defend.
3. What is the key to stopping the USC?
CC: The key to stopping USC is not so much in stopping them, but not allowing their D to stop your team. The Trojans rely heavily on their defense and are 17-5 when their opponents score less than 70 points. If BC is taken out of their offensive game plan and has to force shots then they won't win pure and simple. SC's bread and butter has been defense all season long, and the main goal out of the gates will be to stop the Eagle's top two or three scorers. To stop USC, Boston College will need another player outside of the regulars to step up and provide offense As Tyrese Rice will have a tough time carrying his team to victory on his own.
4. What is your prediction for the game?
CC: I predict a close SC win. I have always been a fan of guys like Ken Pomeroy, Jeff Sagarin, and John Gasaway, and all of them have USC as favorites over Boston College based on their various metrics for ranking college hoops teams. More importantly though, I think SC matches up very well size wise and has a ton of momentum heading into this game. USC could certainly come out flat and prove me wrong (trust me, they've done it before), but even Vegas picked the Trojans as the favorite to win.